I took that photo early this morning while I was supervising. I hate the drive in but I love the wildlife and remote feel of our campus. This story was inspired partly by a story I read of my boyfriend’s. I haven’t ever really explored my emotions and turmoil that surrounded the last year of my Great-Grandmother’s life, who I affectionately called “Big Grandma.” She suffered from senile dementia and deteriorated to the point that, for the last 9 months we had no choice but to place her in a nursing home. I was nearly 14 when she passed and we had been extremely close, she was almost like a 3rd mother to me (my Grannie being my 2nd Ma ). Hope you enjoy!
“Nothing but White”
The walls, the floor, the people are all blinding white, like the snowy static on old T.V. sets slowly overtaking her other senses until her mind is as numbingly blank as her surroundings. Voices call out to her, yet not, their owners fading eyes seeing only what they wish they saw, what they once saw a long time ago. She does her best to ignore them, a wan smile all she can manage as she slips past; the knot in the center of her chest tightening. A doorway yawns ahead and her steps unconsciously slow to a crawl until she hovers beside the door, forehead resting on the cool frame. The woman inside lies motionless in the narrow bed, her vacant stare fixed unseeing on the anemic ceiling. “Big Grandma?” she calls out hesitantly, suddenly a small child again. The woman’s pale scalp shines through the steely hair grown thin and wiry with age. She closes her eyes and tries not to think of how it used to curl gently in a snow-white halo about her face. Drawing an unsteady breath, she opens her eyes and breaks into the room with quick, light steps, the momentum of her conviction numbly carrying her across the sterile room until she found herself alongside the bed. Her fingers move of their own accord, gently enveloping the woman’s frail hand in her own, nearly wincing as the ice-cold skin beneath leeched the warmth from her own. The woman’s lips are moving soundlessly but the girl as learned by now that it was better not to hear. Instead, she leans over, forcing the image of the woman that was to fade as the woman who once was replaces her in the girl’s mind. Her voice thick with a borrowed accent she whispers, “Big Grandma, it’s me. It’s Kjersten.” A spark of life flickered in the woman’s eyes, igniting a frenzied wildfire of hope that roared to life unbidden within the girl’s chest. The pillow rustles softly as her Big Grandma looks back at the girl, her pallid lips widening into a beatific smile. “Ah, my Kjersten.” A sob catches on the back of her throat. “Yes! Yes, it’s me Big Grandma.” Then, with the same ruthless abruptness of clouds blotting out the sun plunging the world into darkness after only the briefest glimpse of illumination, she was gone. Alone once more, surrounded by nothing but white.